Philosophy of Sex and Love: An Opinionated Introduction, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Philosophy of Sex and Love

An Opinionated Introduction, 1st Edition

By Patricia Marino


238 pages

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Writing for non-specialists and students as well as for fellow philosophers, this book explores some basic issues surrounding sex and love in today's world, among them consent, objectification, non-monogamy, racial stereotyping, and the need to reconcile contemporary expectations about gender equality with our beliefs about how love works. Author Patricia Marino argues that we cannot fully understand these issues by focusing only on individual desires and choices. Instead, we need to examine the social contexts within which choices are made and acquire their meanings. That perspective, she argues, is especially needed today, when the values of individualism, self-expression, and self-interest permeate our lives. Marino asks how we can fit these values, which govern so many areas of contemporary life, with the generosity, caring, and selflessness we expect in love and sex.

Key Features of Philosophy of Sex and Love: An Opinionated Introduction

  • Offers a contemporary, problems-based approach to the subject, helping readers better understand and address current issues and controversial questions
  • Includes coverage of sex and love as they intersect with topics like disability, race, medicine, and economics
  • Considers not only the ethical, but also the broadly social and political dimensions of sex and love
  • Includes a helpful introduction and conclusion in each chapter and is written throughout in a clear and straightforward style, with examples and signposts to help guide the student and general reader
  • A comprehensive and up-to-date bibliography provides a valuable tool for anyone’s further research

Table of Contents





Chapter 1. Sex, respect, and objectification


Sex as inherently objectifying: the view of Immanuel Kant

Feminist theories of objectification

Nussbaum on the varying aspects of objectification

Challenges for Nussbaum's theory


Chapter 2: Objectification, autonomy, and pornography


Objectification and social autonomy

Social autonomy and adaptive preferences

A social perspective on pornography

The "pornutopia" and pornography's falsity

Beyond the heterosexual context


Chapter 3: Consent and rape law


A short history of the law of consent

"'No' means no"

Communicative sexuality and nonverbal consent

The Antioch Policy and verbal consent

Affirmative consent, sexual autonomy, and the law



Chapter 4 Sex work


Sex work and the law

Sex work as a free contractual exchange

Sex work, commodification, and the specialness of sex

Commercialized sex in context

Sexual surrogacy



Chapter 5: Union theories of love


Why a theory of love?

The union theory and its difficulties

The relationship of self and "we"

The "we" as a merger of ends and desires

Love and irrationality



Chapter 6: Concern theories of love


Love as caring concern

Disinterestedness and reciprocity

Love and autonomy in the union and concern theories

Love, autonomy, and deference

Love and rationality revisited: appraisal and bestowal

Limitless care and the problem of paternalism



Chapter 7: Love, fairness, and equality


Union theories and balancing

Concern theories and deliberation

Equality and fairness

Why a theory of love, revisited



Chapter 8: Orientations of sex and love


Concepts, terminology, and history

The "born that way" and "not a choice" arguments: conceptual complexities

The "born that way" and "not a choice" arguments: ethical and political complexities

Orientations and values of sex and love



Chapter 9: Love and marriage


The nature of marriage

Is marriage a promise?

Gender and the institution of marriage

Is marriage bad for love?



Chapter 10: Sex, love, and race


Race in cultural context

Some problems with racialized preferences

Further evaluation: causes and consequences of racialized preferences

Marriage and racial solidarity



Chapter 11: Sex, love, and disability


Disability in context

Physical disabilities and sexual surrogacy

Surrogacy, intimacy, and love

Intellectual disabilities and complexities of consent


Chapter 12: The medicalization of sex and love


Medicalization and the "Viagra narrative"

The social control of women's sexuality

Recent scientific study of women's sexuality

Nonconcordance and the interpretation of desire

Lack of desire and eagerness versus enjoying

Medicalization of love?


Chapter 13: The economics of sex and love


Economics and love: what is the problem?

Altruism and the possibility of "self-interested" love

Economics and sex

Sex, love, and economic methodology


Chapter 14. Ethical nonmonogamy


What is ethical nonmonogamy?

The values of ethical nonmonogamy

The "paradox of prevalence" and changing the law

Challenges for ethical nonmonogamy







About the Author

Patricia Marino is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo in Canada, where, in addition to philosophy of sex and love, she works in ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of economics. She served as co-president of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love from 2008 to 2018, and is the author of Moral Reasoning in a Pluralistic World (2015).

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